Rockets GM On Lin, Harden, Free Agency

Rockets GM Daryl Morey oversaw one of the most active front offices during the 2012/13 season, pulling off nine transactions, including a pair of trades at the deadline. None of those moves appear to have been quite as significant as the James Harden trade Morey engineered a few days before the season began. Fittingly, the Rockets match up with Harden’s former team as they begin the playoffs against the Thunder tonight. Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle caught up with Morey to look back on a few of his moves and gaze ahead to the summer, when the Rockets are confident they can clear the cap space necessary to go after Dwight Howard. Here are a few of Morey’s comments:

On his initial expectations for the season:

“I had prepared (owner) Leslie (Alexander) for just a horrible season if we don’t get Jeremy (Lin) and don’t make the trade for James (Harden). I actually think Leslie was prepared for it for the first time. I think it was the right approach. We were hoping to avoid a down year, but I don’t see any way we could have avoided it if we don’t have some of the things break our way, Omer (Asik), Jeremy and James, and even getting guys like (Carlos) Delfino on very good deals at the end of free agency. A lot of stuff had to come together.”

On how he expects to improve the team:

“I think we’ll have to do a little more than growth from within. I hope it’s all growth from within. We’ll still take bets on young players, but we also may have to look outside, most likely through free agency than trades. We have that cap room and we like our young players and are reluctant to trade most of them, if not all of them.”

On his plan for pursuing free agents:

“We’re not the first team to be young and hope for the future. We know probably the No. 1 mistake franchises make is in this phase to spend money on the wrong players, and it ties them up. We’ll be real careful. We’re going to be careful in free agency. We’re not going to be straightforward — team need, sign guy, team need, sign guy.”

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